Council vote appears near on Tupelo's Complete Streets

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – After weeks of deliberation, the City Council might soon pass the controversial Complete Streets Policy.
Several members said they’ll likely vote March 23 on an amended version of the policy, which would require that sidewalks and bike lanes be considered for all major road projects.
“We just want to make sure we’re all on the same page,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis on Tuesday. “We still have a few questions we need answered.”
The council had tabled the policy last month, citing too many unknown factors and cost concerns. Since then, the city has held a public meeting and a work session to resolve those issues.
On Monday, the municipal Planning Committee unanimously approved the policy with one amendment suggested by Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell.
The amendment allows the city and developers to avoid adding sidewalks or bike paths to a road project should they cost more than 5 percent of the total project. Originally, the policy set the threshold at 20 percent.
“I’m satisfied,” Newell said Tuesday.
But questions remain for other council members. Jonny Davis of Ward 5 said he’d like to know more about restrictions on retrofitting existing streets. And he said curbs and gutters should be considered before sidewalks and bike paths in some cases.
The policy was first introduced to the council Feb. 3 by the Department of Development Services. It has the support of Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
If the council adopts it, the policy will become a permanent part of Tupelo’s development code and subdivision regulations. It also will make the city Mississippi’s first to join the movement. Similar movements are ongoing in Arkansas, Atlanta, the entire state of Tennessee and more.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.